10 weeks to go! And the great news is there is still time to make gains in your speed by making some small changes to your running technique.
QUICK GUIDE ON HOW TO IMPROVE RUNNING TECHNIQUE
> PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT - You may have heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practise to hone a new skill but you can make some positive changes to your running technique in just a couple of weeks. Any changes will feel odd to begin with, but if you keep practising they will feel more natural and easier to maintain.
> GET TO KNOW YOUR RUNNING STYLE - First it's important to get to know what your running style is like, because how can you change something if you don't know what needs to be changed? You can do this by running on a treadmill and looking in the mirror, ask a friend to take a video or maybe take a glance of yourself as you run by some shop windows.
WHAT TO LOOK OUR FOR
> ARMS - Try to notice what you do with your arms - to they swing across your body, are they down by your sides or waving around like Phoebe from Friends!?!?
> POSTURE - Next take a look at your body posture - are you leaning forward, upright or leaning backwards?
> LANDING - Listen to your landing - is there a difference in the noise when your right foot strikes the ground in comparison to your left foot? Do you make a lot of noise when you land? Try to notice which part of your foot is in contact with the ground when you land. You may land with your heel first then roll onto your midfoot or you may land on your toes.
Lastly, what motion are your legs making when they run. How high are your heels coming up behind you, do they stay low to the ground or are they up near your bum? Does your knee bend before you strike the ground or does it stretch out in front of you?
WHAT EFFICIENT RUNNERS DO
Now you've got a grasp on what to look out for, let’s look at what efficient runner's do....
> LIGHT LANDING - efficient runner's spend less time in contact with the floor because they strike the ground underneath their hips. Their leg movement is almost circular as they lift the heel up behind them, then drive the knee forward before striking the ground. They look like they are gliding along because they have minimal contact with the ground which means they apply less breaking forces and they don't waist energy bouncing up and down.
TOP TIP: When running uphill, focus on lifting your heels up behind you and make a circular motion as you cycle your legs. The hill and leg action will help you to land underneath your hips so you spend less time on the ground. Once you get the hang of it, try it on the flat too focusing on landing lightly and underneath your hip.
> RUN IN SYMMETRY -'Every action has an equal and opposite reaction', Newton's third law is definitely worth taking note of when you're running. If you are twisting with your upper body, that rotational motion will have a reaction somewhere further down the body i.e. where you land. If you look at the Brownlee brothers run, they pump their arms and have minimal twisting movement in their upper body.
TOP TIP: During your next speed or tempo session, think about pumping your arms back and forth. Ideally you want to have a 90 degree angle in your elbow and as your arm swings focus on gently touching hip then up to your chin.
> STAND TALL - Efficient runners have an upright body postures and some expert favour a very slight forward lean from the ground (not the waist), as they say it helps with forward propulsion.
TOP TIP: Think about standing tall, lifting out of your hips and shoulder back next time you’re out running. You'll find your core muscles start to work harder and it's easier to breath.
> DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP - Any changes to running technique take time and it's important to stress that it is 'your technique' - no one is perfect, but we can always be more efficient in our own running style. It will take weeks of practise before any changes to your technique feel natural, but equally it should never feel totally uncomfortable.
Even the most experienced runners are still working on improving on their technique so don't beat yourself up if it takes a while to master.
TOP TIP: Keep practising!